Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to the Grind

School is finally back in session today. And I don't say "finally" with a sigh of relief, as if there's been too much togetherness and I'm ready to be alone. I just mean it was supposed to be back yesterday, but the cold postponed it.

I had big plans for all I was going to accomplish today, but it didn't really come to pass. One thing I was determined to accomplish is the baking of 3 dozen cookies, but that was not a realistic plan. Small One had volunteered these cookies, baked in the shape of Wise Men, as a treat for her choir's "Epiphany Party". When she came home from school, I had the dough out, softening so we could cut it, and as she washed up I baked the first sheet of cookies, so that she could decorate them with colored icing and melted chocolate.

Fast forward an hour and a half, and the first tray was still not decorated. I had baked the rest of the dough into camels and wee (three) kings, and had mixed another batch of dough for the rolling, while fielding texts and phone calls about a work situation and a death in the family. Despite my encouraging hand gestures, Small was not, indeed, speeding things along, but was painting each little wise man as if this was her greatest work of art, worthy of careful attention to intricate detail.

It is apropos that I'm writing about this when the theme of the month is "pressure". Twenty minutes before the party was about to start (a thirty minute drive away), I was thinking that it was no problem, I'd just wear what I was wearing, and if I rushed her, we'd only be thirty minutes late...

And then I stopped. Because- why? Why all the pressure? Of course she wanted to paint them beautifully, they were an expression of love for her choir director. Why should I hurry her through this labor of love, making it unpleasant for her, while making her late for the party? It's bad enough that I put myself under that kind of pressure, but putting my seven year old in that position just teaches her that it's the right way to live, and it isn't, is it? Do I want to perpetuate this panicky push to accomplish all these things that aren't even necessary? No, I don't.

(Side note: That was a lot of p's. It could have been more. I wanted to say "Do I want to perpetuate this panicky push to perfection so prevalent on Pinterest?" But I didn't. You're welcome. But I digress.)

I unclenched my jaw, and smiled at her. I said, "I'm going to go change my clothes and wash my face, and while I'm gone I want you to choose the three best wise men, and we'll give them to your director as a present."

She said, "But I wanted to make all of them beautiful, to make all the children happy!"

Raise your hand if you understand that none of the children would have, for one moment, even comprehended the pressure she had placed on herself, as they were eating the cookies. Because they really would not have. I explained that they'd be happy anyway, because there would be pizza, and cake, but if we didn't leave soon, she'd miss it, and they'd miss seeing her, which would be sad, because playing with her would make them even happier than cookies. (Probably untrue, but I want her to believe it anyway.)

I got ready, she chose the preferred wise men, I packaged them beautifully, and we ran out, leaving decorated wise men on the table, their undecorated brethren on the counter, because I'd decided that I didn't even want the pressure of dealing with them, and would put them away later, because nothing would happen to them before I got home. (Spoiler alert, the dogs ate the decorated ones before we got home.) We were only a few minutes late to the party, and arrived in plenty of time to give her director the gift befoer the games began. She was gratifyingly appreciative. All is well.

Tomorrow, we'll have our own Epiphany party. Small will decorate these guys, taking as long as she wants to do it:

We'll bake them some camels, and we'll even bake a new holy family so our cookie magi will have someone to visit.

The important thing is, there won't be any pressure. 

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